Tricks for pics

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Specialist papers can be a versatile medium for your projects. Christiane Berridge experiments with a variety from Crafty Computer Paper

For the majority of dolls' houses paper paintings are where its miniature art collection begins and ends, and mine is no exception with just three original paintings, and the rest framed up paper copies.
What paper lacks in originality and craftsmanship of brushstroke it is at least inexpensive and accessible. But it is possible to improve on this basic art collection for minimal expenditure.



Instead of printing onto ordinary paper I tried two specialist sheets; Peel & Stick Cotton Sheet and Linen Paper available from Crafty Computer Paper, to better replicate canvas (the latter having a more pronounced weave). The sheets are treated as ordinary paper and fed through an inkjet printer. You don't need to change any of the printer settings.

You need a sheet of miniature paintings, either by scanning, reducing in size and arranging on a page, courtesy of your computer, or cutting and sticking the old-fashioned way, onto a sheet of paper. Auction catalogues are a good source of images. The paintings are unlikely to be the famous ones, such as Landseer's Monarch of the Glen, or Van Gogh's Sunflowers, but their anonymity makes them appropriate for the less palatial dolls' house.



My inkjet printer initially baulked at feeding the Peel & Stick paper through (I think the rollers didn't initially grip the plastic backing sheet). The instructions advise that you could fold over a strip of masking tape along the leading edge of the paper to make it more secure, which I should have tried. But once it did go through I was really pleased with the results. The linen sheet fed through my printer like a dream.
At this point that I realised that the sheets were slightly smaller than A4, so make sure that you plan the layout of your designs carefully to avoid losing the edges.

It was easy to cut the pictures out leaving a margin around each one, trimming away the excess from the corners and folding it over a piece of card and framing up. The Peel & Stick cotton sheet makes this task easy. With its backing paper peeled away the fabric is really very sticky so careful positioning of the picture onto card is crucial. The prominent weave of the linen sheet (without an adhesive backing) produced very effective results, and I preferred it to the cotton sheet. With both sheets the matt appearance of the finished paintings is pleasing as opposed to the sheen of paper.

The results just need to be framed up and hung on my dolls' house walls ready to be admired.



Shrink Paper is a special paper which when heated in the oven can transform any design printed onto it into plastic. In the process the designs are shrunk in size by at least half. It sounded an interesting medium but how did it work?

The instructions suggested that the original shape to be shrunk should be twice the desired finished size, and that image colours should be lightened as colours intensify during the shrinkage process. I asked our magazine designer Norman Rowlinson to produce some designs for plates, a clock face, and a number of street signs to test the process.



I copied the designs onto the special shrink paper feeding the sheets into my inkjet printer just as with ordinary paper. The printed sheets then had to be left for 30 minutes before cutting the designs out. Initially I put two of the 'plates' into my pre-heated oven (gas mark 5) to test the oven temperature and the shrinking process. Just two minutes later the tiny shapes were ready. It was magic!



As the paper shrinks in size it also magnifies in thickness, so the plates for example don't have that typical plate shape, being flat, and they were rather chunky at 1/16in thick but could work as a bread or cheese board. The clock faces fared better in terms of the finished piece and just need to be incorporated into a suitable housing.

I had varying success with the signage. The street names didn't all come out as quite flat as I would have liked, but that may have been due to the slight variation in baking time and temperature. But I did like the texture of the finished signs as opposed to using paper stuck onto mountboard. The more rectangular house name plaques were more successful, although the 'tradesmen entrance, unfortunately curled onto itself and didn't uncurl. I suspect that I should have left it in the oven for longer.

The holes for hanging any signs need to be made before the design is shrunk using a hole punch, which I did on the pub sign. Also as the colours intensify on shrinking, simple colour schemes or black and white work best, so remember this when choosing a design to copy and shrink.

Shrink Paper requires some experimentation and planning for perfect results, but it's a medium that I'm keen to try again.

Away from the miniatures hobby the shrink paper has other craft possibilities. Try it for making jewellery, keyrings, games' counters, badges or buttons.



  • Spend out on one original mini painting and exhibit it in a deep frame picture box.
  • Accessorise with a few other quality pieces for a very special display. Ideal when you feel that the picture could get lost in your dolls' house or it cannot be easily viewed being on a side or back wall.
  • Give an original miniature painting pride of place at the front of a room where it can be easily seen. Use cheap and cheerful 'paper' paintings to brighten up the darker recesses of your dolls' house.
  • Turn a dolls' house into an art gallery. Arrange the displays according to artist or theme, perhaps devoting a room to each.
    Add sculpture for variety - you could even host a Private View before the show is open to the public. Add a café and giftshop for your very own National Gallery or Tate!
  • Create the home of a master forger or art thief for all those famous works of art.



Shrink paper/plastic sheet, £1.85,
Peel & Stick Cotton Sheet, £2.49, Linen Fabric Sheet (non wash), £2.04 all per A4 sheet

Crafty Computer Paper, Hamilton House, Mountain Road, Leicester,
LE4 9HQ, Tel: 0116 2744755

 Gorringes, Fine Art, Antiques and Collectables, 15 North Street, Lewes, East Sussex, BN7 2PD,
Tel: 01273 472503  

Try Wood Supplies for frames. They offer many species and sizes of sheet wood, strip wood, architectural mouldings including picture framing. Most frames can be supplied with real glass or mirror glass if required, which can be cut to the customer's requirements.

Wood Supplies, Monkey Puzzle Cottage, 53 Woodmansterne Lane, Wallington, Surrey, SM6 0SW,
Tel: 020 86697266


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